Effective assessment is a key element of great teaching and great learning. At the Queens’ Federation, we are continuously working to implement and develop assessments that are robust and reliable, consistent and comparable with those in other schools nationally. We are also seeking to make them manageable and useful for teachers, enabling them to focus on pupils’ key next steps in their learning.
In the implementation of our assessment system, we aim to:
- align assessments to national standards in each year group
- develop a rigorous system of standardisation and moderation both within school and with other schools
- use assessment judgements to track progress, identify gaps and improve teaching and learning for all children
Assessments – Reading, Writing and Mathematics
In KS1 (Year 1 and Year 2), teachers make termly teacher assessment judgements in Reading, Writing and Mathematics based on their ongoing informal observation of the children’s learning. In writing, an independent writing task is also set each term and is assessed using a modified version of the ‘Big Writing’ criterion scale, developed by Ros Wilson. In Year 2, teachers use the KS1 interim assessment frameworks and previous KS1 tests to ensure their in-year judgements are consistent with national expectations.
In Years 3 to 5 we use the following assessment tools and tasks to help inform teachers’ ongoing teacher assessment of the children:
|Writing||Autumn, Spring, Summer||Independent writing task||Assessed using a modified version of the ‘Big Writing’ criterion scale, developed by Ros Wilson|
Autumn, Spring Summer
|NFER standardised test||Test providing an age-standardised score, aligned to nationwide standards|
|Mathematics||Autumn, Spring, Summer||NFER standardised tests (Arithmetic and Reasoning)||Tests providing an age-standardised score, aligned to nationwide standards|
In Year 6, teachers use the KS2 interim assessment frameworks and previous KS2 tests to ensure their in-year judgements are consistent with national expectations.
We work together across the Federation to ensure that our assessment judgements are consistent both within and across our two schools. We devote staff meeting time at each assessment point to standardise our judgements and engage in moderation activities. In addition to this, we are continuously exploring ways to work with other local schools to support each other in making consistent and reliable assessment judgements.
Tracking Progress (Years 1 to 6)
We use Essex Target Tracker (TT) for our school assessment data in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. At appropriate termly intervals, children’s attainment is recorded as a ‘step’ on the TT progress ladder. The ladder is divided into 6 bands (which correspond to expectations for each year group, e.g. Band 3 = expectation for Year 3).
These bands are then sub-divided into 6 smaller ‘steps’ to allow us to track progress over the year. At the end of the year, children are assessed at the following ‘steps.’
|Beginning||Beginning +||Within||Within +||Secure||Secure +|
|Child is working below the expected standard for the end of the year.||
Child is working just below the expected standard for the end of the year.
|Child is working just at the expected standard for the end of the year.||Child is working at the expected standard for the end of the year.||Child is working at some depth within the expected standard for the end of the year.||Child is working at greater depth within the expected standard for the end of the year.|
The expectation is that children should be working towards securing and ‘mastering’ the curriculum content for their year group, rather than being ‘accelerated’ through content for future years with only a superficial understanding of it. Where children have secured the key objectives for their year group they will be given opportunities to show their understanding and application of those objectives at greater depth, rather than moving them onto the objectives for bands above their year group.
Where children have not secured the key objectives from previous years, we will continue to track their progress through lower bands while seeking to help them catch up and reach the expected standard. We believe this approach balances the need for high expectations with the importance of recognising the steps of progress children are making from their starting points.
In our assessments, we set a minimum threshold for children to cross before they can be considered to be ‘beginning’ to work in a particular band. When children are not yet able to attain that minimum threshold in the assessment, they will be assessed at the lower band, to ensure that important prior knowledge is securely in place.
The Target Tracker software enables teachers to quickly review the achievement and progress of their class and of particular vulnerable groups within it (e.g. Pupil Premium or EAL learners). After each assessment, class teachers will use their data to make adjustments to teaching and learning. This may include: revisiting areas of the curriculum with the whole class; providing flexible guided support on objectives that specific groups found challenging; targeting additional 1-1 or small group intervention for children failing to make good progress (or to catch up with their peers).
We define ‘expected’ progress when a child moves at least 6 steps up the Target Tracker ladder over the course of a full school year (for example, from a 3w+ at the end of Y3 to a 4w+ at the end of Y4).
Assessment in Other Subjects
Unit Overviews set out the end of unit outcomes in each curriculum area. These end of unit outcomes are also clearly displayed at the top of each foundation subject medium term plan.
Expectations of and links to prior learning are also clearly set out on individual unit overviews.
Individual subject assessment criteria documents identify key questions and statements that pupils should be able to answer to demonstrate their understanding of end of unit outcomes. These key questions and statements are carefully linked into planning to ensure that pupils have opportunities to demonstrate their learning throughout a unit of work. Teachers annotate planning to capture key information regarding individual pupils if necessary.
‘Do Now’ grids, completed at the beginning of foundation subject lessons, enable teachers to revisit and review prior learning. This includes learning from a previous lesson, previous unit of work and previous year group.
Responsive teaching enables us to be flexible and adapt planning to provide time for re-teaching or consolidation if necessary.
Annotated planning, evidence of learning and teacher’s professional judgements enable them to assess pupils against the end of unit outcomes at the end of a unit of work. This information is recorded at the end of each foundation subject medium term plan and feeds into future ‘Do Now’ grids and future planning.
A copy of each end of unit outcome information is passed to the subject leader. This enables the subject leader to track individuals and groups of pupils and ensure future ‘Do Now’ grids and planning provide support and challenge for all.
At the end of the year, an overall judgement is made for each child in each foundation subjects. This indicates whether they are working below, at or above their age related expectation and is recorded on Target Tracker. Subject leaders can then identify trends in data for individuals and groups of pupils.
At the end of the year, a ‘Class Next Steps’ grid is also completed. The information on this grid identifies key strengths and areas for development for individual classes. This information is shared with the new class teacher to help inform future ‘Do Now’ grids and is shared with the subject leader to help support future curriculum developments.